Gone ’til November: NHL cancels 26.5% of its games
NEW YORK – The NHL lockout has forced the cancellation of all games through the end of November.
One day after a league-imposed deadline passed for a deal with the players’ association that would allow for a full season, the NHL announced Friday that 326 regular-season games were lost. That comes out to 26.5 percent of the schedule, from Oct. 11 through Nov. 30.
The dispute, primarily over money, is somewhat similar to the 2004-05 lockout that led to the cancellation of that entire season – the first time a North American professional sports league lost a complete campaign to a labor dispute.
Reaching a new deal became even tougher Friday because the NHL pulled its most recent offer to the players – one that included a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenues – off the table. The NHL proposal was contingent on the league playing a full 82-game season, beginning Nov. 2, which now won’t happen.
Johnson gets some help in the points race with the pole
MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Jimmie Johnson’s championship hopes got a boost Friday when he won the pole position for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway, while points leader Brad Keselowski qualified 32nd.
Johnson, a five-time champion, gained not only the top starting spot but the stall at the front of pit road, giving him unimpeded access to the track.
He trails Keselowski by seven points with four races remaining. Denny Hamlin, who is third in the points race and 13 behind Johnson, will start fifth.
Brian Vickers earned the outside starting spot on the front row, with Kyle Busch third and Jeff Burton in the second row.
Accused UCI strikes Tour winners from 1999 to 2005
GENEVA – The seven Tour de France titles stripped from Lance Armstrong will not be awarded to any riders, and the American cyclist and his teammates should return their prize money, the sport’s governing body ruled Friday. That amounts to almost $4 million in Tour money from Armstrong.
Acknowledging “a cloud of suspicion would remain hanging over this dark period,” the UCI said the list of Tour winners will remain blank for the years from 1999 to 2005.
The cycling body also ordered an independent, outside investigation to examine questions about the UCI’s own conduct and its relationship with Armstrong raised by the United States Anti-Doping Agency report that detailed systematic cheating by the Texan and his teammates.
UCI has been accused of accepting $125,000 from Armstrong to cover up suspicious doping tests. Riders and officials involved in doping programs also will be targeted by the inquiry commission.
Indiana earns AP’s No. 1, Hoosiers’ first since 1979-80
Indiana took another step Friday toward the return of the fabled Hoosiers program, as head coach Tom Crean is about to start his fifth season in Bloomington.
Indiana was ranked No. 1 in The Associated Press’ preseason Top 25, a first for the Hoosiers since 1979-80, when they were coached by Bob Knight and the 3-point line still was in the experimental phase.
The Hoosiers and their fans are quite familiar with the next two teams in the voting: Louisville and Kentucky. The three schools are from the basketball-rabid area known as “Kentuckiana.” Nos. 1, 2 and 3 all are within an easy drive of each other and are schools which have known basketball success over the years.
The Hoosiers, who return all five starters, including 7-foot sophomore Cody Zeller, received 43 first-place votes from the 65-member national media panel. Louisville, which reached the final four last season, and Kentucky, the reigning national champion, received the rest of the first-place votes.